Clara Oaks is a proposed housing development in the Claremont hillside adjacent to the Claremont Wilderness Park. The project is in the very early stages. The developer held a Community meeting on May 1, 2017 to solicit input on the project. This community input has been incorporated into a draft specific plan which City staff is reviewing.
clara oaks vicinity map (pdf)
Updated Monday, June 14, 2017
(Includes Questions/Comments that were asked at the community meeting on May 1 , 2017 and from letters received on the project.)
1. What is the project description?
A. The development of 47 homes on an approximate 99 acre site in the northwest portion of the City. The site is east of Webb Canyon Road, north of the Webb Schools, and east of the Claraboya community.
The single-family homes are planned for lots of ¼ acre or larger. The proposal calls for these lots to be left in their natural state until the individual homes are built. The homes will be built to conform to the topography, and much of the natural landscaping will be preserved. This is not a gated community. The proposed home have square footages ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet. There will be a parking lot for trail users with trails and access easements through the residential portion of the development to the northeast portion of the project. This area will be designated wilderness park. The location of the parking lot has not been determined and the parking lot design has not been completed yet.
B. The project is in a Hillside Residential Overlay Zone. The Hillside Residential Overlay is hillside land that has the gentlest slope, is where residential homes may be constructed. Owners of land in this Overlay Zone may purchase transfer development credits from owners with hillside property that does not qualify for construction. In this way, development occurs on the gentlest slopes and much of the steeper land is preserved as open space.
2. What is the status of this project? How long will it take to get to a hearing before the Planning Commission?
A. The project is at its beginning stage. The applicant will be submitting a draft specific plan for staff to review. Staff will give corrections and comments on the draft specific plan back to the applicant. This iterative process will take a few months, with the end result being a complete draft of the specific plan. This draft will be used to conduct the environmental review on the project.
B. This project requires the approval of a Specific Plan and a Tentative Tract Map. The project will also include the approval of a development agreement. The project will require environmental review under CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act.
C. Staff will likely be issuing a Request for Proposal in July/August for a firm to conduct the environmental review on the project. The reviews and environmental work take time and this project is not expected for hearing before the Planning Commission until early to mid-2018. It will also require a hearing before the City Council.
3. What will be done to address the fact that this project is in a high fire zone and could increase the risk of fire in the area?
A. Each house will be surrounded by a fuel modification zone, where the landscaping is less flammable. A fuel modification zone, required by the County Fire Department, creates defensible space necessary for effective fire protection of homes in the Fire Hazard Severity Zones. https://www.fire.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Fuel-Modification-Plan-Guidelines-8-10-11.pdf
B. The project will have a new water tank will be 250,000 gallons to meet the fire flow requirements.
C. Each house will be a fire hose length from the nearest hydrant.
D. Each street will have a turnaround for fire vehicles.
E. The project is required meet stringent County and Fire standards for developing in high fire areas.
4. Who are the partners in the Clara Oaks group? What is their experience working together? What is their experience with this type of project and in working in areas with high fire risk?
Clara Oaks is an investment group from Canada, with Randy Lim as the managing partner. This particular group has not previously worked together on a project but individually have experience in the hillsides of the San Gabriel Mountains and have worked with the County and County Fire Department on appropriate design requirements for high fire areas. Two projects were in San Clemente and Beaumont. One member of the group has worked on three different residential hillside projects east of Arcadia. None of the projects have been involved in fires. Please visit www.claraoaks.com for further information on the company, a projects list and bios of the partners.
5. Once the custom houses have been sold, what is the landowners’ responsibility to retain the vegetation on their property after the building process is complete? Will homeowners be restricted from putting in lawns, cutting down trees, replacing with vegetation of their choice?
The landowners are required to follow the standards and requirements of the Specific Plan and the Homeowners Association rules, both of which will be specific as to vegetation and landscaping.
6. What improvements will be made to Webb Road and Baseline Corridor as a result of this project? The roadway is only 20’ wide and one lane in some places.
A. The CEQA, or environmental review, will determine if any significant impacts will occur to the surrounding roadway system. The environmental review will determine what, if any, improvements must be made in order to mitigate significant impacts that are identified in the traffic analysis. The environmental review will be conducted by a consultant selected by the City and will begin once the draft Specific Plan is ready for environmental analysis.
B. Clara Oaks plans to maintain the character of the existing road. Details of this will be addressed as the project moves forward and the environmental work has been completed.
7. Will there only be one way in and one way out of the development? Is it legal to have only one ingress and egress from a subdivision?
Yes. According to Title 32 of the Fire Code and Title 21 of the Subdivision Code no more than 75 homes can be served from a single route of access in areas subject to hazards from brush or forest fire.
8. What are the square footage of the proposed homes?
Between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet.
9. What will be the impacts to wildlife? Can you limit non-native wildlife such as cats and dogs?
The CEQA, or environmental review, will determine if there are any significant impacts to the biology of the area and would recommend mitigation measures for significant impacts to the wildlife and vegetation.
Developer wants to leave the site in its natural state as much as possible. Colliding species currently happens now and will continue to occur.
10. Is the project wholly within the designated cluster area for hillside development?
The topography determines the exact boundaries of the cluster areas: those areas will hillside development is permitted. The applicant will submit detailed engineering surveys to verify the topography and the placement of the houses. The development is within the Hillside Overlay and this is hillside land that has the gentlest slope.
11. Can the City prevent this project from occurring?
Courts determined that private owners have a legally protected right to receive some economic benefit. The City cannot ban development altogether because this would create an “inverse condemnation” situation. Neither can the City purchase all of the private property due to the significant cost to City. In addition, property rights are important to residents and City officials and the ordinance itself has a policy to protect the rights of property owners to receive some economic benefit from their land (by selling and using development credits).
12. What is the direction of flow for drainage and sewer? Does it go to Webb Canyon Road where the majority of it drains now? Have soil feasibility studies been conducted to determine how runoff can be accommodated?
Each site will have its own water detention to keep runoff onsite. Details of drainage will be determined as the project approval progresses and the project is reviewed by City Departments and outside agencies. Soil analysis will be completed as part of the environmental review and as part of the project approvals.
13. What parcels will be donated for park and/or wilderness areas? How big of an area is it?
The proposed northeast remainder parcel will be donated for wilderness park area and is about 50 acres.
14. Will there be access out of the back of Claraboya?
No because there is a power line there and we would need an easement.
15. What electrical grid will be used?
Electricity and other dry utilities for the project are still being reviewed. Once detailed information is available regarding electrical grid connection it will be posted here.
16. Is this the last open hillside land in Claremont that can be built on? Where else can developments occur?
No, there is a property to the east (Evans property) which is about 75 acres. The developer is looking at this property for inclusion in this project. These two properties are the last that can be developed in the hillside area.
17. Will the environmental document study the effects of climate change?
A. The environmental review includes analysis on “greenhouse gases,” which are gaseous compounds in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases (GHG) are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming. GHG principally come from fossil fuel use, deforestation, intensive livestock farming, use of synthetic fertilizers and industrial processes.
18. What does the Zoning Code require for hillside developments?
New Developments in the Hillside Overlay must:
• Conform to the General Plan and any specific plans for the hillside area;
• Be flexibility in the siting of dwelling units to best fit the natural terrain;
• Preserve outstanding natural features, (highest crest of the hill range, canyons, natural rock outcroppings, desirable vegetation, and natural water courses, and areas abundant in wildlife);
• Introduce and conserve plant material that protect slopes from slippage or soil erosion;
• Design buildings to accommodate sloping sites and minimize the amount of grading required; innovative building techniques to best blend buildings into the terrain encouraged;
• Build streets that follow the natural contour lines wherever possible; and
• Preserve, to the maximum extent possible, any view corridors or scenic vistas from adjacent developments.